The Torah portion of Vayeira begins1 with G‑d revealing to Moshe His Ineffable Name Havayah. G‑d then goes on to tell Moshe that He did not make this name known to Avraham, Yitzchak or Ya’akov. Rashi2 comments that G‑d was thereby implying that “He did not make Himself known to them with His unlimited attribute of truth.”

The Alter Rebbe explains3 that, with this statement, G‑d was answering Moshe’s complaint of “Why do You mistreat Your people?” G‑d in effect told Moshe that redemption is tied to the revelation of His Ineffable Name. In order to merit this great degree of revelation, it was necessary for the Jews to undergo the hardships of the Egyptian exile.

This redemption thus involved more than physical and spiritual liberation from slavery; its ultimate purpose was the revelation and knowledge of the Name Havayah. As long as the Name was not known by the Jewish people, there could be no true freedom.

What is the connection between Havayah and liberation?

The explanation is as follows: The Hebrew root of the word for Egypt (meitzar) means straits and limitations.4 These are found within holiness as well. All human beings are inherently limited, so even when we serve G‑d with all our power, we have still not transcended these built-in boundaries.

In a more profound sense, exodus from Egypt requires the transcending of even the limitations of holiness. Understandably, a person is not capable of doing this on his own, as man is inherently limited. One can leave this “Egypt” only by nullifying oneself before G‑d, thereby becoming a receptacle for the G‑dly revelation of Havayah, which takes a person beyond all limitations.

Herein lies an eternal lesson to Jews, at all times and in all places: An individual can attain a personal state of spiritual redemption even before the redemption of the entire nation.5 It is thus possible for an individual to be in doubt as to whether he or she has already attained spiritual redemption or is still in a state of spiritual exile.

A person might well think that, if he has vanquished his evil inclination and is wholly dedicated to the study of Torah and the performance of mitzvos, with even his worldly activity being performed for the “sake of Heaven,” that he has attained a state of redemption.

The verse therefore informs us that one may have attained the spiritual state of the Patriarchs, serving G‑d with complete devotion to Torah, prayer and good deeds, but as long as the Name Havayah does not illuminate his life, he has yet to leave Egypt and attain true redemption.

But how does a person know whether he has merited the revelation of Havayah? Rashi answers by explaining that the Patriarchs did not merit Havayah because “He did not make Himself known to them with His unlimited attribute of Truth.”

Truth is not subject to change. Thus, the Talmud Yerushalmi states6 that “G‑d’s seal is emmes — truth.” The Hebrew word emmes is composed of the three letters, alef, mem, tav — the first, middle and last letters of the Hebrew alphabet. This indicates that, from the beginning, through the middle and until the conclusion, truth does not vary.

This, then, is the criterion by which we can determine whether a person has truly left behind all spiritual straits and limitations: If the person’s manner of service defies change, i.e., his Torah study, prayer, performance of mitzvos and involvement in permissible matters are all done — under all circumstances — without change and with total nullification before G‑d, then he can rest assured that he has attained a true state of spiritual redemption. Havayah is revealed within him, for his service displays the imprint of unvarying Truth.

Based on Likkutei Sichos, Vayeira 5749, pp. 1-5